Jivoddharana Dasa has a degree in sustainable farming methods. After joining Iskcon in 1980, he served in both city and farm temples for more than a decade before moving to Nova Gokula in 1993. Determined to farm in Krsna consciousness, he and his wife, Ekamurti Devi Dasi, set about building a house in the Vedic Village section of Nova Gokula. Their materials: mud, cow dung, and local wood, some milled at a nearby lumber yard. Jivoddharana bought the roof tiles, although he says, given more time, he could have made them. As it was, it took the couple six months to complete the tidy three-bedroom house at a cost of $1,000.
Jivoddharana found his five acres of Nova Gokula land to be "very tired," but renewable with composting, terraced plowing, and organic recycling. He and his wife now produce enough fruits, grains, and vegetables to completely feed twelve families. They also partially feed several other families, in addition to many guests to Krsna's temple. Still, they sometimes have to plow good produce back into the ground because there's simply not enough time or extra help to pick it all. Jivoddharana's produce business supports his family and allows him enough extra to care for several retired cows.
Their garden is neat, large, and lush. It's spring, so the winter crops of lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower are giving way to beans, squash, corn, and rice. Orange, papaya, and banana trees surround their home. A banana plantation fills a terraced hillside leading to a large rice paddy.
"I feel very enthusiastic about farming for Krsna," Jivoddharana says. "Whenever guests come, which is often, I can sit and talk with them. If no guests come, I just work in the garden all day."
Because most of the Nova Gokula devotees are engaged in other ways, Ekamurti Dasi, a city girl, sometimes finds herself a little lonely.
"Vedic Village is like Vrndavana. The rest of Nova Gokula is like Dvaraka," she jokes, referring to the rural and urban settings of Lord Krsna's pastimes.
Still, she relishes many realizations of Srila Prabhupada's teachings.
"You begin to see the Supersoul, even in an ant."
Living As Krsna Lived
Rupa Gosvami Dasa summarizes Srila Prabhupada's teachings on rural communities:
Rural communities are meant for cultivating Krsna consciousness. Devotees should lead a simple, self-sufficient life, totally independent of materialistic civilization. The way of life to follow is that of Krsna in Vrndavana.
Self-sufficiency comes from protecting cows, bulls, and oxen, and from the ecological cultivation of land. Self-sufficiency should be total: food clothing, medicine, construction materials, and so on.
Each devotee needs to work 120 days a year to guarantee the community's self sufficiency. The remaining time is for Krsna conscious programs.
Work should be accomplished without having to travel great distances. Commercial agriculture is not encouraged. If there is surplus production without additional effort, then sell or distribute as prasadam.
Devotees should travel in ox carts for ten miles in all directions, bringing neighbors books, prasadam, and the holy name.
Machinery and electricity are not necessary, but may be used if they don't demand a big effort for their acquisition and maintenance.